When you think of mantras, I bet you envision monks meditating on snowy mountain-tops, or tan glistening yogis in L.A. coaching plastic-surgeried housewives and celebutantes. You don’t? Oh, well, I always did.
For me, the word mantra evoked notions of people seeking peace and transcendence. And while reaching a higher plane is all well and good, these days, I need a little less peace and a little more…action. But I read an article in Runner’s World about running mantras that help you power through the hard parts or push yourself a little harder for that last half mile. Something about a simple sentence to repeat over and over spoke to me, so I selected myself a little mantra to try out on an 3 mile-run: “Stride Strong, Be Brave.” After beating my 5K PR, I knew I had a winner. But I didn’t know that a little running mantra would wake me up.
Courage, bravery, that’s always something I’ve felt I lack. I have plenty of fear– fear of the unknown, fear of failure, feat of judgement, fear of conflict, fear of change (which ties in with the unknown), fear of insanity (that’s a whole other blog)–and that really hinders my enjoyment of…life. How can I make a decision, live my life at all, if I am paralyzed by the idea of something going wrong? How can I feel free to be myself if I am constantly afraid of people judging me? How many times have I chosen a safer path, a more boring haircut, a less feisty comeback, out of fear? I finally got sick of it, and it all started with me wanting to be a better runner.
Anyway, I started thinking to myself “Be Brave” on and off throughout the day, sometimes about things that may not even have anything to do with bravery: I really want that ice cream…“Be brave”…Oh, guess I don’t. I really like these nerd glasses, but my boyfriend might not…“Be brave!”…Fuck it, buying them! The more I started aligning myself with living without fear, the more self-confidant I felt. And then, last weekend, I did something that would have mortified an old version of myself. Something that was clearly one of the best ideas I’ve ever had.
And so follows my Super Epic Tale of my Mantra. So maybe I didn’t confer with god…I think this is still pretty amazing.
Here’s what happened. I LOVE 30 Seconds to Mars (read this for more on that) and I finally decided to part with some money and see them in concert. I was totally stoked and had been planning every little detail down to what shoes I would wear for weeks. And then, a mere 6 days before the show, they announced a theme: sports! Let me say that of all the themes they had to choose from (bloodball, whiteout, goth, etc.) they went with the last one I would have chosen for the Detroit show. And, you know, a month ago, I probably just would have worn a Tigers T-shirt (not that there’s anything wrong with that. Yay Detroit teams! Go Tigers! Go Wings! Go…oh, does anyone care about the Pistons anymore?) and called it a day. But I was in Bravery phase. I wanted to stand out, and just because they picked what I considered to be a lackluster theme didn’t mean I personally had to lack in luster. I wracked my brains for that almost- week, and literally found myself having nightmares about what I would wear to the goddamn concert.
And then, the night before, I had an epiphany: in what sport do the athletes wear fishnet stockings and torn tank tops and war paint and arm bands? In what sport is sexiness part of the fun (and I am not talking about beach volleyball)? Roller derby! I have totally admired those girls since I saw the derby episode of Psych, and it just seemed like the ideal costume idea: certainly a sport, but way more noticeable than a baseball cap. And hey, in the spirit of being brave, why blend in when you can standout…in a helmet.
So in a few frantic hours before the concert, I ran around Southeastern Michigan on a raging caffeine buzz gathering materials for two roller derby costumes, one for myself and one for my very loyal friend Shannon who agreed to be brave along with me. And that night we rolled (pardon the pun!) up to the Fillmore in Detroit decked out in knee socks and helmets and armbands. Shannon looked at the very innocuously dressed crowd with trepidation, but I felt all the more spurred on by the lame-zors in the crowd. We were dressed to theme (whether anyone else knew there was a theme or not was beside the point…the band knew, and I only cared about what they thought), we looked damn good, and we would turn heads. Maybe the people inside those heads would think we looked crazy, but I didn’t give one single fuck: I felt awesome.
We got stares. Stares and sideways glances and quizzical smirks and I loved every minute. And slowly but surely Shannon started to see the fun in being epically courageous in a huge-ass crowd. And had my whole night consisted of people thinking I was nuts, I think I would have been happy with that. But I have my little red helmet to thank for the best night ever.
I was just rocking out to the (Incredible!) show, waving my helmet around, having the time of my life, when I saw Shannon Leto (drummer extraordinaire) looking at me. Not you or you…ME. I waved, and he waved back, and then I put my helmet back on…and he mimed as if he was doing the same. I looked around at the sweaty crowd around me like, “Did anyone else just witness that?!” It was awesome, and I would have carried that memory home as a happy little talisman except something even more unreal happened.
For the encore song–their ANTHEM “Kings and Queens” no less–the band pulls people up on stage. You hope, you pray, but you never actually think you will make eye contact with the dead sexy Jared Leto, see him point at you and say “You, with the armbands”; you never dream that you will say, “Me?” and knock on your helmet; you would never really allow yourself to believe that he will nod, and then offer his hand to you to help you up onto the stage; and you definitely never ever thought in a million billion years that you would look into his ice blue eyes (the ones you watched in the music videos and movies all those times) and say, outloud, so he could actually hear you, “I love you.” But yeah, all that happened. I told the Jared Leto–actor, singer, songwriter, most-beautiful-man-to-ever-walk-the-earth–that I love him. To his face.
I should be horrified. But I’m not.
I am just really, really happy that I bought that cherry red helmet.
So yeah, I never thought a simple mantra could rock my world like this, but it did. Telling myself to be brave gave me a night I will remember FOREVER. And now, I can’t help but wonder, what will happen if I keep it up?
Seriously, if I just keep being true to myself and keep living courageously and fuck anyone who wants to quash my awesomeness, what can’t I accomplish?What would you do if you drown out all the voices and live without fear? Think about it. No, really, stop, close your eyes, and really think about it: What would you do if you decided to just be brave. It boggles the mind, doesn’t it? Suddenly, I feel like I have no limits…just as long as I’m brave enough to barrel through the barricades.
I think I’ll start with getting the fuck out of limbo and into a career.
But change is scary…“Be brave, be brave, be brave“…OK, let’s do this thing.